St. Paul, MN – More than 300 people demonstrated in front of Senator Al Franken’s campaign office here, July 30, while 15 people were arrested for civil disobedience inside his office. This protest was the ninth demonstration in solidarity with the people of Palestine in recent weeks in Minnesota.
The protest was organized as a part of a national movement to turn up the heat on members of Congress, weapons manufacturers and Zionist organizations that provide the weapons and diplomatic cover for Israel’s war on Gaza.
“More than 1000 Palestinians, many of them children, are dead in Gaza. Senator Franken has a long history of voting for U.S. military aid to Israel and last week he co-sponsored Senate Resolution 498 – that cheers for Israel as it bombs schools, refugee centers and hospitals,” says Meredith Aby-Keirstead of the Twin Cities-based Anti-War Committee.
“Israel receives over $3 billion in U.S. aid every year, which it uses to oppress, detain and kill Palestinians. Our tax dollars are paying for the current massacre in Gaza. We demand Senator Franken oppose any U.S. aid for the occupation of Palestine,” said Sophia Hasen-Day, also of the Anti-War Committee (AWC).
The AWC’s Jess Sundin participated in the civil disobedience action. “Al Franken ignores the concerns of his constituents when he supports Israel’s bombing campaign of Gaza. No person of conscience can defend Israel and U.S. aid to Israel at a time like this. For the last three weeks, thousands of people in the Twin Cities have joined millions across the globe, demanding an end to Israel’s criminal attacks on Palestinians and calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel. Mainstream media, like Franken and the rest of Congress, have ignored us. Enough is enough, no more business as usual. As a mother and activist, I refuse to be ignored; I refuse to let the humanitarian disaster created by Israel to be ignored. Today, people of from Minnesota to Palestine, including the Minnesota congressional delegation, will hear us when we say, ‘Let Gaza live!’”
The protest effectively shut down the Franken for Senate office at 4:30. The staff sent home their interns and canceled their evening youth phone bank.
The staff did get Senator Al Franken on the phone to speak to the protesters. He told them that he disagreed with their “characterization of the conflict.” Protester Anne Keirstead told Senator Franken, “How can you sleep at night knowing that you support Israel bombing children, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, killing children? I can’t sleep at night knowing that my tax dollars are being used to pay for this atrocity. It boggles my mind how you can support this.” Franken hung up on the protesters when he was challenged directly on his misrepresentation of his record. 15 protesters refused to leave his office and were arrested for trespassing. They were all released within an hour of being booked at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center.
The July 30 protest at Senator Al Franken’s Campaign Office was organized by the Anti War Committee. The Anti War Committee, along with other peace groups and organizations in the Palestinian community, has mobilized thousands of people in Minnesota over the past three weeks for protests in solidarity with Gaza.
The next protest will be August 1 at 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Summit and Snelling Avenues in Saint Paul. It will call for freedom for Palestine and justice for Rasmea Odeh. It is being organized jointly by Women Against Military Madness, the Anti-War Committee and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.